Rise up to your challenges; I dare ya.

A good friend of mine from college, Chris Fortunato, just biked the Great Cycle Challenge to help kids fight cancer.

Chris Fortunato, Cyclist & Half-Century Victor

He’d been logging 17 mile rides. The personal trainer in me couldn’t help wanting to make it a little more interesting for Chris so I challenged him to ride a 25 miler, a 35 miler & a 50 miler – with a promised donation of a dollar per mile. He named it the Daunting Dobbs Dare. Note, Chris is NOT a hard core cyclist or triathlete (yet). And guess what?  He completed my challenge today with his grand finale, half-century ride, a notable feat even for experienced cyclists! And he thanked me for throwing down the gauntlet and said it wasn’t bad at all. (I see a century ride in his future.)

Inspiration & Motivation

Sometimes it takes that extra push from an external source to just do it or do the things that we weren’t even sure we were capable of or hadn’t even imagined in the first place. Chris was inspired by a great cause and then my “daunting dare” topped it off.

Back when I used to run some grueling trail marathons, thinking about my Dad who had a stroke and was confined to wheelchair always renewed my grit and determination. I’ve also participated in a couple challenging 100 mile / century rides for cancer, thinking about what cancer patients go through helped me tell my legs to just shut up and keep pedaling.

If causes inspire you, there are tons of walks, runs and bike rides out there where you can contribute to a greater good, improve your health and fitness, and have a good time with like-minded peeps.

Even personal trainers and coaches need motivation and more often than not it comes back to us from people we coach. For instance, I’ve  gotten away from biking lately, other than an occasional 35 mile ride. I’ve been doing other things, swimming, yoga, hiking, mt. biking, rollerblading, weight-lifting etc., but just haven’t been motivated to go the distance on the bike. The thing is, I have been missing the quality endurance training and serious calorie burning of a long ride. So guess what? After Chris achieved his 50 mile goal yesterday, I amped-up my standard route and road 50 in solidarity with him. Chris inspired me.

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Notablely, I was inspired and encouraged by good friends to create this health and wellness blog and my adventure travel blog. It took their kind and persistent nudging to get me to commit to taking those first few steps.

I’m also inspired by other fitness professionals. Last week I took a handstand class from local yoganastic guru, Lexi Beal.

Lexi)

Lexi Beal, Yoganastic Guru Extraordinaire

Her grace and strength inspire me and I wanted to challenge myself to do a handstand. Why? Because I’ve never done one and I aspire to have that kind of strength, balance and core control. Did I do it? Well, I did go heels over hands, but only made it to a wall stand.

L wallstand

And that was still a feat for me. Still “on the wall” about taking my handstand practice further. While I love trying something new, I do want to preserve and protect my shoulders for swimming…As we get older, we sometime have to make those kind of choices. (Sigh, but that’s a subject for another post.)

We’re all on this life, health and fitness journey together. Who can you inspire to help them fulfill their potential or explore something new today? And who will inspire or motivate you to rise up to your next challenge, personal, professional or fitness?

Share your stories and let’s help each other grow and become our best selves – mind, body and spirit. Nameste.

L nameste

 

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Sustainable fitness: Get back to you and rediscover physical bliss.

Fitness means cultivating an active lifestyle that’s sustainable for you. That means it has to be fun and rewarding for you. Exercise / moving our bodies should not be a necessary evil, but a fundamental pleasure.

I run into lots of people who suffer from various forms of workout “burn out”. Unfortunately many of them drop all activities and  loose what fitness they’ve gained. Many of these people have personal trainers who have over prescribed regimented routines or they’re following some training guide or guru.

I know someone who was on a strict, intense Ironman training program for 2 years. She set goals, signed up for races with friends, and followed the program to the letter. And she succeeded, completing Ironmans, half irons,  many sprints, marathons, halfs, etc. She accumulated so many finishers’ medals that she had to buy racks for them.  Now despite her achievements, and possibly because of them, she has zero enthusiasm for biking or running. It’s more than the familiar post-race partum. Here’s the rub, she doesn’t like biking or running, never has. So instead of checking the triathlon and running activities off her list and pursuing something she enjoys, she’s made a pact with a friend to run a mile a day, every day for 12 weeks. Sound like a good plan? Not to me. If you dislike running, how is forcing yourself to run a mile a day for 84 days in a row going to make it better? TBD if she sticks with this pact. If it works for her that’s great―everyone is different. I’m skeptical because it sounds like punishment (a minor daily flogging) without the promise of enhanced fitness or renewed mindset.

The struggle to overcome inertia happens to ALL of us

Yes, even the biggest workout fiends have those days where they struggle to pull themselves out of bed to make that 5:45 AM swim session, etc…And if having a pact with a friend helps us show up to our activity that’s great. As long as it’s an activity we like that yields the results we want.

But it’s important to know the difference between every day inertia and your body or mind telling you, “Hey, a break is the healthy choice today.” As in, recuperative sleep is going to do your body more good than a junk workout in an exhausted condition that may make you more susceptible to injury.” And in the scenario above, running a quality 3 miles a couple days a week is going to do your body and mind more good than slogging out an uninspired mile every day will. I get that some people need discipline and regimented workouts to overcome inertia. I’m just saying monotony is monotony and if you’re already burn out on an activity, forced monotony is not going to help.

What’s important is that we make the positive choice to move more often than we succumb to inertia. And as long as we’re happier for it once we’ve done it, we’re choosing the right activity for ourselves. Dread must transform into pleasure―whether it’s the endorphins, the fresh air, the company, the scenery, the results―it must make us happy, or we won’t sustain it for the long run.

If you find yourself force fitting some type of exercise, why not substitute an activity that makes you happy? Note I chose the word activity because exercise and workout have taken on negative connotations. Life’s too short for self-inflicted punishment when there are so many joyful ways for us move, experience the world around us and interact with each other. Change your mindset on exercise. Think of activity time as your adult play time with or without playmates.

8 Questions to help you discover your activity bliss

  • What activities do you love that you “used to do” ? What’s keeping you from enjoying them today? (Ok, injuries are legit excuses. My favorite activity was trail running and severe chrondomalacia/ runners knees prevents me from doing so, but I still hike…)
  • What activities have you always dreamed of trying? Set a goal of trying 1 a month.
  • When was the last time you mixed it up? (The same routine day in and out not only kills motivation, but it won’t rack up the results you want.) Keep it fresh by rotating your activities, and adjusting intensity and duration.
  • Are you getting results? (When you define and attain results that are meaningful to you, you’ll appreciate the activity more- lower body fat %, personal record run times, stress release, a calmer, happier mind set, etc..)
  • What activities have you tried once and dismissed? Try again.  If it’s skill -based, you need to give yourself time to develop the skills before making the final determination. Also as you evolve, you may find your activity tastes change. (For me, yoga falls into this category. Previously, I resented taking time from my endurance sports. Now, I really appreciate the balance it brings to my body and mind and understand how it could have benefited me then, had I been more patient.)
  • Are you having fun; does the environment engage you? (What would make it more fun for you – add music, friends, a change of venue, etc…)
  • Do your favorite hobbies involve movement? Here’s your excuse to indulge in them.
  • Who inspires you? What are they doing? Even personal trainers need inspiration now and again. I follow a few kindred spirits on Instagram and have a couple of people in my life who help keep me motivated and engaged.

Get back to you and rediscover your physical bliss.

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Sometimes just getting back to the basics can be refreshing. Long before triathlons, I was big on weight training. I’m coming back to it now because it’s a great way to maintain muscle tone and boost your metabolism. Both become more essential as we get older…

 

Tell me, what’s your physical bliss? How do you overcome exercise slumps?

PS: Want a great running substitute that will bring back childhood memories and can be done anywhere? Pick up a jump rope, you’ll get an efficient workout in less time and with less impact than running.

Roll out of your exercise rut: 10 tips to change it up for better results

Are you doing the same exercise routine day in and day out? Most likely you’re bored and not getting the results you hoped for. Guess what? Your muscles are bored too- they’ve already adapted to the activity and are at ho hum status quo. Chances are you’ve hit a plateau and your progress has halted.

You have to change it up to get the results you want and to stay committed. The great thing about triathlon is cross training is built in (swim, bike, run), but even triathletes can get in a rut. The solution? Change it up. If you’re not feeling it, forcing yourself into a prescribed workout is not always the answer and can lead to burnout. Substituting a fun activity that you don’t do often is one way to combat exercise ennui.

This weekend, instead of another bike ride, I laced up my roller blades (remember those things?) and rolled out the door. It was quite refreshing and is a great, low impact leg workout that targets different muscles than biking or running.

 

10 Tips to change it up for better results

  • Change your route regularly. If you run / bike on roads, hit the trails. At the beach? Run barefoot in the thick sand.
  • Boost your intensity / speed.  Add interval training, track workouts or hills.
  • Increase your load in the gym.  Add weight so that you can just barely do  3 sets of 8 until you’re able to do 3 sets of 12, then up it again. (And no, ladies, you won’t get too big – that takes a ton more work.)
  • Alternate exercises. Doing the exact same routine every day may make it easy to go through the motions, but unfortunately that’s all your muscles will be doing too.  And you’ll be sacrificing results and possibly inviting injury. Switch out bench presses for chest flys with dumbells, etc..
  • Include strength & core training. It will enhance everything you do and help protect you from injury. Not to mention the vanity dividends.
  • Get outside. A good dose of Vitamin D, fresh air and scenery will do wonders for your energy level and your spirit.
  • Do yoga. Your body will thank you.
  • Try something entirely different – SUP, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, wake boarding, rollerblading, soccer, softball, tennis, dancing,  limitless options.
  • Make exercise time your fun time. What physical activity makes you smile? Starts with S? I meant skipping rope, but yes, of course the other too!
  • Cultivate a handful of activity partners so you always have a playmate for different activities.

 

What do you do to roll out if your exercise ruts?

Stop making resolutions. Start setting goals and getting off your butt!

Day 5, 2014. How are those New Year’s resolutions going? If you’re already falling short, you’re not alone. (I was supposed to be on my 5th blog by now.) According to the University of Scranton, of the 45% of us who make New Year’s resolutions, a mere 8% actually achieve them. So what’s one to do? Instead of making blanket, generic resolutions – be healthier, lose weight, exercise― get specific.

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